Thoughts of my mother have filled my soul. It has been the thing that made me different, my entire youth I was the one whose mother died as a little. There was the hidden tragedy in the voice of the ones who said it, in hushed tones, and sullen eyes. My curious nature propelled me to ask endless questions of my dad who told me everything he remembered and tried to paint vivid pictures of this woman, my mother. There remained a deep hole in the center of my essence because I didn't have her.
I was only a few months into being a four year old when my mother took her last breath. My mind tries desperately to search for images or words but comes up empty, save for the stories of my elders. Would I ever reach into the past and know this complex, beautiful, and talented woman whose face I see when I look in the mirror?
My eyes are looking out at the quaint neighborhood, my home, and I glance at a picture of her when she was sixteen. Her smile held such innocence, such hope, such promise. Did she know her dreams would be dashed by the harshness of segregation and the cruelty of patriarchy? Her creativity, her desire was crushed on a spring day and in some ways, her light dimmed.
I am now forty-three and have come to know this woman,my mother. My own journey has given me two families, my older children and my precious daughters, one who is now four. This year I will be forty-four, the same age she was when she drew her last breath, perhaps that is what is propelling me to dance in her sunrise. Her spirit lives on in my writer daughter, who at six, is both passionate and pouty, and my warrior daughter, who at four, is determined and daring. My mother was forty years my senior, almost exactly, us sharing the same birth month. She looked so joyful in the photos of her with her children, perhaps her heart was uttering the hope that one of her three daughters would catapult her dream to a new tomorrow. Perhaps we have, perhaps we are.
My life has brought me back to the city of my birth, of her birth, to the welcome of my elders. I listen to them and see the generations of our legacy. My eyes seek to capture every nuiance, every gesture, to store it in my memory back, to fill in the pieces. I am older and wise now, I appreciate the treasures now.
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